Out with the old..

This is the old one.

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Thanks Aunt Clare for the amazing upgrade! Hope you like the look.  Actually, now that the graphic designer sees the work of son and I, he is ready to step in and clean it up…which is about how I get a lot of projects done around here (it’s how I got a new tub once!): one broad stroke from me, nine minutia fixes from him, and voila, product. According to the man, there’s some shrinking and shifting around to do still.  Now that he says it, I totally agree.  That beats cutting mitered corners every time!  But, we’re on our way, thanks to Clare (www.clarecarver.com).  I’ll share the final result.

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Walk in the Woods

Why have I denied myself the wonder of these woods?  So many weeks go by without my taking the time to visit. Not today.  The weather is glorious, the ground soaked with rain and bursting with life, and the dogs were beside themselves with glee. 2.27.2013 041

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Thank you roaring creek! You made my day.

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events of late

A new hen must be laying. We tried to share the scale with you but little hands look so big!

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We played with the dogs, and I am happy to report she can stay.  We’ve been through a few tenuous weeks.  We were not sure if the counter jumping, gate-smashing, jealous and illiterate girl would ever adjust to something other than living on the streets.

Yes, I called her illiterate! Heavens!

“What does ‘sit’ mean?”

“Did you say ‘out?’  Of the trash can?  Why?  There’s food in there. That’s where I find food.  You just said it again, louder. ‘OUT!’   Look at you.  Are you now yelling at me?  I’m wagging my tail, does that help?”

“Excuse me? ‘Off?’  Off what, the table?  Why? There’s food on that plate.’

“Get that other dog out of here.  This is my house now. Where did he come from anyway? grrrr.”

She’s a five year old female shepherd my son adopted from the pound. I was really unsure. All he wanted was, “An old dog who will cuddle with me.”  Would she EVER shape up into a dog we could love?  She’s coming around, and she’s quickly becoming one of the family. Old dog, new tricks. Anything is possible with love, acceptance and patience. (Which is also why the house was not clean, and then – with a severe attitude adjustment on my part – is now cleaned. Yay team!)


So, in my newly shined kitchen tonight, I tried Neufchatel. Tomorrow will tell. (I overheated the milk.)


Oh, and my son made me an arrangement from the swaths of daffodils decorating the yard. This pales in comparison to last week’s welcome he created: a line of mason jars, each one about ten feet from the next, set up like luminaria. Each jar held a few daffodils, glowing golden in the sunset, and lining the walkway when I arrived home at dusk. Wow.  What a heart. His sister helped.

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Oh my broccoli, it’s cold outside!

Leggy though they be, the broccoli starts remain in the southern exposure kitchen window, watching, watching for warmer days and less ice. Soon, my leggy ones, we will put you by the wind break wall of the barn and pile straw around your feet to keep you upright and warm as Spring descends. A transplant job may be in order in the meantime. Or, if I can get that cold frame up and going, we’ll pop you in there. My son ordered broccoli at the restaurant tonight. Ah, success!

Meanwhile, I sit warming my toes recalling the images from Mother Goose.

polly put kettle on

Come let’s to bed, says Sleepy-head;
Tarry a while, says Sow;
Put on the pan, says Greedy Nan,
Let’s sup before we go.


That illustration, of a lazy trio glued to the warmth of the fire, reluctant to trudge into the cold attic, was all too familiar. Oh how I would delay the shock of cold as the down comforter slowly warmed up.  I realized tonight that somehow in my youth I merged the imagery from two poems, one from Mother Goose and the other from William Shakespeare. I’d named one of those Mother Goose girls “Greasy Joan”.



Winter    (From “Love’s Labour’s Lost”)

When icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
    And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
    And Marion’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

soul work

There’s something in me stirring, something essential and reverberating, with every drip from the cheesecloth ball that is squeezing out a batch of farmer’s cheese. Fromage Blanc is the name of the recipe, with local rich cream and buttermilk, fresh squeezed lemon and whole local milk, but, this is Farm School, so we will choose the humble colloquial name. I will post a photo when finished of Farm School’s first Farm Cheese.

as promised:

Fromage blanc


Camp Fair


“I’m looking for kids who don’t want to be told what to do all day.”  That line, heartfelt, brought more surprised grins than I could count, from both parents and potential campers alike. We are so structured today, so driven from doing to doing, that we have no room to remember how to ‘be’.

Farm Camp is about being. The campers will choose their activities. While we’ll have plenty of things we can do if we want to (make a fire, build a fort, dip candles, muck in the wetland), there is barely anything we’ll have to do. There are a few things we will try to be, such as: safe, healthy, and kind and we might have a rule that fun is required, but even the rules are up to the group.  Most of all, these three weeks are about letting out a big sigh of relief, relaxing into long summer days and finding our heart songs.

Today was a mixed emotion day for me as there was a good bit of “doing” to get ready for this ‘being”.   It felt a bit ironic. But, now at home the February fire blazes, the children roll and laugh on the couch, the animals are fed, the chickens on their roosts, and the darkness brings a calm to the homestead.

For a few moments, I panicked.  What if they are expecting “Old MacDonald’s Farm”?  Is what we have enough?  Are the chickens, ducks, dogs, cat, guinea pigs, sheep and maybe even rabbits …enough?  Just asking the question made me laugh. My inner Mother gave me a hug: ‘It’s plenty my dear. More than plenty.’

As I walked in from feeding the animals, the red sun setting, I heard the imagined laughter of a small group of children as they completed their teepee fort with the tarps I’d tossed out that morning, the twine they’d scrounged from the bales in the small building we call the barn, and the tall branches they’d dragged out of the woods to construct it, as a team, all afternoon. I sighed in relief, “It’s going to be great.”

Thanks Kateri for the photos.





Late Arrivals


I am wanting the campers to have the sweet experience of chicks and ducklings.  Typically, we order chicks in time for Easter and have full grown chickens by summer. I thought Spring was best for biddies. However, we’ve had broody hens (typically Buff Orpingtons) sometimes appear mid-summer with a clutch, and those chicks seem to make it just fine into the Fall. So, I am figuring we can buy biddies for June arrival and they will thrive with the flock.

The issue is integration, but that can be solved by having campers build a chicken tractor!  Everyone wins!


adults only: passing over

Tonight, while the children are asleep, I am harvesting a rooster.  We arrived home to find he had gotten into a gruesome fight with another rooster, though both were free in the yard and it was not a space issue but rather one of dominance.  Too many roosters is unhealthy for a farm. His destiny was already written, and this event made it clear the time had come for his transition. This, too, is part of learning and being a farm school. One day I will offer a class on harvesting chickens for adults. Rest, dear handsome one.  Thank you for your service, your biddies and the stock that will nourish us. Amen.